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Good food in Kapolei?

We're recent transplants from San Diego to western Oahu, and we're depressed by the dozens of chain restaurants nearby. I know there must be some culinary treasures on this side of the island. Anyone have some good recommendations? We're talking street food, fine dining, takeout, whatever. We're particularly interested in farm-to-table, local pork, etc. but we're curious and happy eaters - just fussy about quality. Thanks in advance for any recommendations!

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  1. lots of farmers' markets all over the island.

    eat the street is a monthly gathering of food trucks in kakaako, sometimes they will have an extra meet in kapolei or another central or west side location. streetgrindz.com.

    kualoa ranch on the windward side has grass fed beef you can order via there website but must grab it from their location. i recommend it, and depending on the cut, it can be cheaper than the supermarket.

    abuse the search function, there are many great threads on each of the categories you listed.

    welcome to the islands. serg's in manoa or waimanalo is where you can get your mexican fix...

    1. I don't make it out to Kapolei much, but from reading the newspaper and word of mouth recommendations I have a short list of restaurants to try if I am ever out that direction:

      Brick Oven Pizza
      Hapa Grill-especially for the teri beef
      Le Nonne-Italian
      Thai Lao
      Monkeypod Kitchen-farm to table

      1. Thai Lao. Generally good, reasonably priced, attractive.
        Il Nonne. Good Italian, but not enough menu diversity yet.
        El Mariachi. Not San Diego quality Mexican.
        Pho808. Pretty good pho.
        Monkeypod Kitchen. Awarded best new Oahu restaurant this year.
        Tacos and More. Not been.
        Kapolei Korean B.B.Q. OK.
        Kahumana Café. Strictly farm to table. Bright flavors. Check opening times.
        Spicy House. The Paneng curry has more potatoes than it used to.
        Go to Waipahu for Thelma's lechon. Worth the drive.

        1. Thanks, everyone. We had a moment of mild desperation today when we couldn't find a local brunch that offered table service and a mimosa. I know it's because we're new - I'm sure by fall or so we'll have found some favorites. We'll get right on trying out your suggestions.

          Any idea where to get local pork? I hear good things, and I do love wild pork—we recently had some at a party in San Diego, from a pig who'd been living in an almond orchard near Bakersfield. It was *amazing*, and talk about free range!

          5 Replies
            1. re: kimbaroni

              local pork
              meet friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and always ask if they or someone they know "hunt pig"

              although you will have to get pork from the big island, where they eat avacados and macadamia nuts, to get the taste you had from the almond farm

                1. re: kimbaroni

                  it is
                  from honokaa on the big island
                  basically all they eat is avacados and mac nuts
                  wouldn't you do the same thing?
                  :)

                  the meat is clean and with lots of marbling
                  no gamey/wild taste at all

            2. Which part of the western Oahu? There are fine restaurants in Ko Olina, e.g. Roy's, Ihilani and Aulani Hotels, Assagio in Kapolei, several Chinese restaurants in Kapolei as well. Lots to choose from beside the usual restaurant chains such as Chili's, etc.

              12 Replies
              1. re: roro808

                Dear roro,

                Knowing what an excellent cook you are, let me just ask: "Would you pay your own money to eat in any of the places you mentioned?

                Just Wondering,

                1. re: Joebob

                  Excellent cook? Thank you for the kind words. Yes, I have done that in the past...out of curiousity. Will I go back? I prefer my own cooking to anything that is presented out there...LOL

                  1. re: roro808

                    San Diegans, there is your summary on those other restaurants.

                    1. re: Joebob

                      I would put Roy's at dinner a bit above the rest.

                      1. re: PattyC

                        But the Ko 'Olina Roy's is the least of the Roy's branches.

                    2. re: roro808

                      What are your favorite markets and shops on this part of the island? We're underwhelmed with the Safeway, and though Down to Earth has a cool (though limited) selection, we'd love to find something a big more comprehensive.

                      We were convinced to get a Costco membership, and though it'll be worth it for wine, fizzy water and gas alone, it's not blowing me away food-wise.

                      As of now, we're buying from 4 different stores, including a trip to Whole Foods in Kailua about once a week for meat and a wider selection of produce.

                      As for farmers markets, we've hit Kapolei, Kailua and Waimea. Do you have any favorites?

                      1. re: kimbaroni

                        Kapiolani community college has the largest farmers market. there is a large whole foods at nearby kahala mall.

                        again recommend kualoa ranch beef, esp if you're on the windward side to get to whole foods in kailua. also a farmers market at windward mall.

                        there's a thread on collectives which deliver local produce boxes.

                        1. re: kimbaroni

                          Although Safeway was the first grocery store in Kapolei, lately I have been very disappointed with what they offer. I prefer Foodland store, new and lots of varieties, very friendly service. If you want to go for more oriental stuff, Don Quixote in Waipahu is the store. Have you tried the Kapolei Farmer's market on Sunday morning at 7.00 am at Kapolei Rece. Center; and there is another one on Thursdays at Kapolei High School from 3pm - 6 pm.

                          1. re: kimbaroni

                            It is late in the day, so this will be the first part of an answer.
                            WHAT I BUY AT COSTCO (BESIDE GAS)
                            N. B. This is because the items are good-value-for-the-money (list not necessarily all-inclusive):
                            prime beef
                            lamb
                            fresh tuna steaks and other fish sometimes
                            mizoyaki butterfish
                            some wines, beers, liquors
                            cereal
                            some coffee
                            some fruits
                            some vegetables
                            almond milk
                            cream
                            breads esp. everything bagels
                            pumpkin pie (Thanksgiving and Christmas only)
                            cheeses e. g. an English farmhouse cheddar, Manchego, Rembrandt Gouda, and, yes, Jarlsberg
                            lox
                            cold cuts e. g. turkey breast, Italian salami
                            rotisserie chicken (rarely, but naturally)
                            nuts
                            candy, occasionally (particularly dark chocolate-covered macadamias in big cans around Christmas)
                            Take some time to look around. It is easy to spend significant amounts of money there.

                            P. S. I think you would enjoy the Waipahu Festival Marketplace (which I understand is expanding) particularly for local fruit and veg. and fish. And it is close to Don Quijote, Pacific Market, Tanioka's, Thelma's, and Poke Stop for the eggplant fries.

                            1. re: kimbaroni

                              When I first moved back to Hawaii less than two years ago, I really missed being able to get a good CSA box in my neighborhood. There were dozens of options in Minnesota, but I found very few here.

                              If you are a couple of dedicated cooks who like the idea of a CSA, I would look into Mao Organic Farms, which has a drop off point at the Kapolei Foodland on Mondays. They would have been my choice if they had a drop off point that worked for me.

                              1. re: Quince

                                I have ordered CSA box from Aloun Farms as well. Great box of really fresh veggies and fruits for $30.. The best part is you don't have to subscribe the order; Mao farms requires you to subscribe. Aloun farm has several pick up delivery. Website; freshalohadirect.com

                              2. re: kimbaroni

                                The Ewa Safeway is better than the Kapolei branch. At the former, for example, I found two types of marzipan, both soft and fresh. The diversity of Asian products at Don Quijote is really impressive. Try the smoked tuna at WF if you haven't discovered it already. However, the supposedly NY-style pastrami, available only at the Hawaii Kai Costco, is a pale imitation of the real thing. Searching for "open markets" and Oahu will produce the complete list from county government. KCC is the biggest and best, but you've got to get up early Saturday morning to be there when it opens before parking disappears. I like the Wed. A. M. market in Mililani, but I haven't been to many.
                                Buy local when it is available, of course.

                        2. Being food-interested San Diegans, surely you have driven 30 min. for a good meal on many previous occasions. Would you mind driving 30 min. into Honolulu to eat well? If not, read past threads on this board.

                          You might also interest yourselves in various events such as the Food and Wine Festival and the Feed the Hunger Foundation Annual Gala Sept. 27th, when Shinsato Farm pork will be on the menu.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Joebob

                            We're definitely up for the drive to Honolulu—so many great choices there—but we'd also like to find places closer to home. We're used to living in town, so suburbs are new to us, too. We're working on adapting - good food close by sure will help.

                            Thanks again, everyone.

                          2. Thanks so much for all the helpful replies. We've been slammed with our household goods shipment and getting unpacked—this never gets easier!—but now that we're more settled, we'll start trying more of these ideas.

                            We did make it to Monkey Pod, and were very pleased with the food and the service. We also stumbled upon Naked Cow Dairy, over in Waianae. Walter, the incredibly friendly man who owns the place, gave us a quick tour of the cheese making kitchen and the soon-to-be shop. Their butter and cheeses are delicious! If you're ever in the area, stop by for sure.

                            I know it's corporate and not local, but I'd sure love to see a Whole Foods turn up on this side of the island. Though I do like Down to Earth, to me it's like shopping at Sprouts (formerly Henry's) in SoCal. You can't possibly get everything there, so it's always an additional stop rather than a comprehensive shopping trip. Though WF is expensive, at least, in a pinch, you can be lazy and get everything you need there. On the other hand, we do love Foodland. They have nearly everything, though they're light on organic/free-range/non-factory meat. We try to do our best on that one.

                            I'm off to sign up for a CSA now. Thanks again!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kimbaroni

                              I too am loving Foodland, the only place in the world as far as I can tell where I can buy real Serrano hamon for $18.99/lb., on sale admittedly.